How's your sweet tooth? If you're like the majority of people, you have one. Back in early times, back before agriculture and urbanization, humans were hunters and gatherers. They reaped a natural harvest of seeds, nuts, and fruit. They found that fruit tasted good. They didn't know that fruit was healthy — they just knew it satisfied a craving.

Today, however, through the marvels of science, you can get that sweet fix in a multitude of other, less healthful ways. You can satisfy your sugar craving through candy, gum, and other nutritionally bankrupt foods. You get the carb surge, and then you crash. This is a deadly mix for depression, since you're already dealing with a depressed mood.

Just How Bad Is Sugar?

Pretty bad. Research hasn't come up with a whole lot of benefits for sugar, but it has found sugar implicated in a host of medical problems, including depression. That's one important reason to limit sugar in your diet. Also, that sugar high that kicks in shortly after you've consumed a sweet soon dissipates, leaving you feeling tired and spent.

With depression, fatigue is probably high on your list of symptoms. You don't need to increase that fatigue factor. In Lick the Sugar Habit, Nancy Appleton, Ph.D. explores the damaging effects of sugar. What does sugar do? She explains:

  • Sugar raises the levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.

  • Sugar can lower the amount of Vitamin E (alpha-ocopherol) in the blood.

  • Sugar can interfere with the absorption of protein.

  • Sugar can increase the body's fluid retention.

  • Sugar can cause hormonal imbalance; some hormones become underactive, and others become overactive.

  • The body changes sugar into two to five times more fat in the bloodstream than it does starch.

  • The rapid absorption of sugar promotes excessive food intake in obese subjects.

  • Sugar induces salt and water retention.

What to do? Reducing your consumption of sugar and products containing refined sugars is one giant step forward in relieving the symptoms of depression. You'll feel less tired and more able to exert control over your depression. It's also better for your teeth!

Where Is All This Sugar Coming From?

It's everywhere! Or at least it seems to be everywhere. You'll find it on product labels for canned fruits, cereals, puddings, cakes, powdered milk, cookies, brownies — all kinds of desserts.

Once you start reading labels and becoming aware of what you're eating, you'll get a good idea of why sugar is so addictive. Watch for sugar under the names of fructose, corn syrup, heavy syrup, or light syrup. Make a commitment to get your sugar fix the natural way, with fresh fruits.

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